Titanium used in planes

Titanium Dioxide

Titanium is a vital building block for renewable energy

When metal has to perform in extremely cold environments, like outer space; in extremely hot ones, like an airplane engine; or extremely corrosive ones, like seawater, titanium is a strong choice – because of its high strength, light weight and resistance to corrosion. It’s now being used to make highly efficient solar panels, underwater heating pipes, and renewable energy infrastructure. And because it’s lightweight, it can also help reduce fuel consumption, letting planes and cars go farther with less impact on our environment.

In 1791, English chemist William Gregor first discovered titanium, which he called “Gregorite”, but German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth independently rediscovered it and named it titanium after the “Titans” of Greek mythology. Four years later he isolated the compound we know as titanium dioxide today.

Titanium dioxide is a very white, opaque compound that absorbs ultraviolet rays and reflects 96% of light, so it’s been a primary ingredient in products like sunscreen, toothpaste, paint and cosmetics for over a century. These same properties are lending it to new applications that reduce carbon emissions – like paint used on buildings to reflect heat and reduce air conditioning energy consumption, and battery and solar technology.

Producing more critical minerals while reducing emissions

We are partnering with the Government of Canada to support technological innovations that could decarbonise our Canadian titanium oxide operations by up to 70%. This includes the BlueSmelting™ project, an ilmenite smelting technology that could generate 95% less greenhouse gas emissions than the current reduction process at RTIT Quebec Operations, enabling the production of high-grade titanium dioxide feedstock, steel and metal powders while reducing our carbon footprint. We’re constructing a demonstration plant that will have the capacity to process up to 40,000 tonnes of ilmenite ore per year.

Our titanium operations

QMM from the air

QIT Madagascar Minerals

Our operation near Fort Dauphin in the Anosy region of south-eastern Madagascar produces ilmenite, which is a major source of titanium dioxide
Quebec operations

Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium Quebec Operations

We’ve developed a new way to sustainably extract and produce high-purity scandium oxide from the waste streams of titanium dioxide production at our RTIT Quebec Operations, without the need for any additional mining. In May 2022, we produced the first batch of this high-purity scandium oxide at our commercial-scale demonstration plant in Sorel-Tracy, Canada, making us the first North American producer of this critical mineral.
Rehabilitation at Richards Bay Minerals

Richards Bay Minerals

Our Richards Bay Minerals operation is a world leader in heavy mineral sands extraction and refining and is South Africa’s largest mineral sands producer

Our titanium products

  • Canada
  • South Africa
  • Madagascar

At our operations in Canada, our main product is titanium dioxide concentrate or titaniferous slag, which we sell as a raw material to titanium dioxide pigment producers. We currently produce 3 registered trademark products:

SORELSLAG® has a titanium dioxide content of approximately 80%. It is sold primarily to pigment producers that use the sulphate process. SORELSLAG® provides these customers with an environmentally friendly way of minimising waste generation. We are the world's leading supplier of high-grade feedstock for titanium pigment producers that use the sulphate process.

UGS™ is an upgraded slag, with a titanium dioxide content of approximately 95%. It is sold primarily to titanium dioxide pigment producers that use the chloride process and to titanium metal producers.

RTCS™ has a titanium dioxide content of about 90% and is sold primarily to titanium dioxide pigment producers that use the chloride process.

At our operations in South Africa, we produce:

Rutile: used in welding rod fluxes, or processed into its titanium metal form. In this form it is used extensively in the aerospace and aviation industries because of its lightness, strength, corrosion and heat resistance. These properties also make it ideal for use in artificial hip joints and pacemakers.

Titania Slag: the titanium dioxide contained in titania slag is used to create a pure white, highly refractive, ultraviolet light-absorbing pigment. The pigment is used in products such as foodstuff, pharmaceuticals (including toothpaste) and cosmetics, as well as in paint, plastics, textiles and inks.

Zircon: used in the production of ceramic tiles and sanitary ware. Refined to zirconia, it is used in a wide range of advanced ceramics, refractories, jewellery, electronic applications and many other industrial and domestic products. Zircon sand is also used in the foundry industry.


Ilmenite: the primary mineral used to produce titanium.

Zirsill: used in the production of ceramic tiles and electronics.

Monazite: a rare earth mineral used in renewable energy technologies, such as high-power permanent magnets for wind turbines and electric vehicles.

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